Newest Nickelback album features overrated banshee

 (Courtesy of Roadrunner Records)

(Courtesy of Roadrunner Records)

Nickelback was the band of the last decade, according to the Billboard charts. Nickelback was ranked as the seventh biggest artist, the highest ranking rock band on the list (Creed was the second highest, at #18).

I have no doubt that their newest album, “Here and Now,” will repeat this success, even if it were to murder every first-born child in San Francisco. I doubt that it could pull off a feat like that, however, since it lacks any sort of ambition whatsoever.

I should take this time to note that, until last week, I had only listened to a few Nickelback songs. After I listened to “Here and Now” the first time, I gave 2001’s “Silver Side Up” a spin, in which frontman Chad Kroeger sounds like he’s been possessed by a Kurt Cobain who lost all the integrity he had and decided to make radio-friendly unit shifters.

Thankfully, Kroeger has dropped that sound in the decade between then and “Here and Now.” Instead, he’s taken to writing hard rock songs about drinking in bars, meeting girls in bars, not being friend-zoned and for some reason, how we should be increasing our awareness of global affairs.

It doesn’t even matter what Kroeger sings about, because he approaches every topic with the same sense of conviction in his voice. It works when he talks about sex machines and midnight queens, but when he tries to reach out to a lonely soul in “Lullaby,” you’ll need him to tell you that “I’m scared as hell” to figure out that he’s scared as hell. The exception is “Kiss It Goodbye,” a song about the phoniness of Hollywood in which Kroeger inexplicably sounds like Rob Zombie.

The music that backs Kroeger displays the variety of emotions that he needs to develop. It gets all fast and messy when he sings about girls, but it slows down and becomes dramatic on the ballads. The other members of Nickelback are all serviceable when they play rhythm, but when Kroeger takes the lead guitar (and effects pedal) for a solo, you should seek cover.

The best song on the album is “Midnight Queen,” an “Appetite for Destruction” style rocker in which Kroeger sings about having sex with the waitress of a really dangerous bar. Despite incredibly stupid and cringe-worthy lyrics such as the single-entendre “She’s gonna lick my pistol clean” and the TMI line “[I] was lying when I told her that I’m only gonna lick her tonight,” the music and vocals together really sell the dangerousness of the bar.